If you plan on having live rock in your system, you can use it to cycle your tank. The fish store, depending on quality, may tell you to add some damsels. Most everyone on this board dislikes this method because it puts stress on the fish that isn't needed. Another way to cycle your tank would be to go to the store and buy some raw shrimp and throw a couple in.
If you want to use live rock, follow these steps:
1. Put substrate in-preferrably some argonite sand, some use crushed coral with success, just depends on how diligent you are with cleaning
2. Put a plate or trash bag on the sand (if you use CC
, don't worry about this step) and start pouring water on the plate or trash bag. This will minimize the sand storm that you will experience.
3. Once the sand settles, start adding salt to your water until you reach the desired salinity, 1.023-1.025. I use Instant Ocean. Others have other preferences.
4. Test water for salinity over next few days and find out how much it changes. This will aid in finding out how much top-off water will be needed. I would guess it will be about a gallon per day.
5. Put in live rock and let your creative ideas take over.
6. If live rock is uncured, some recommend doing water changes and others recommend letting it cycle. If you do water changes, it will prolong your cycle, but you will have a better chance of hitchhikers surviving.
7. This is my opinion, but I didn't add any fish to my system for two months. It was a painful time in my reef, but I have three healthy fish in there now and all of my crabs and shrimp and snails have survived.
8. Nothing good happens fast in reefing.